Tracey Ullman makes her return to the BBC, after last appearing in her own show on the network in the mid-1980s. This new series sees Tracey play a multitude of characters both original and impersonations of those visiting or living in the UK.
Runtime: 30 minutes
Tracey Ullman's Show - Tracey Ullman - Netflix
Tracey Ullman (born 30 December 1959) is an English actress, comedian, singer, dancer, screenwriter, producer, director, author, and businesswoman. She holds both British and American citizenship. Her earliest appearances were on British television sketch comedy shows A Kick Up the Eighties (with Rik Mayall and Miriam Margolyes) and Three of a Kind (with Lenny Henry and David Copperfield). After a brief singing career, she appeared as Candice Valentine in Girls on Top with Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. She emigrated from the United Kingdom to the United States where she starred in her own network television comedy series, The Tracey Ullman Show, from 1987 until 1990, which also featured the first appearances of the long-running animated media franchise, The Simpsons. She later produced programs for HBO, including Tracey Takes On... (1996–99), for which she garnered numerous awards. Her sketch comedy series, Tracey Ullman's State of the Union, ran from 2008 to 2010 on Showtime. She has also appeared in several feature films. Ullman was the first British woman to be offered her own television sketch show in both the United Kingdom and the United States. In 2016, she returned to British television with the BBC sketch comedy show Tracey Ullman's Show, her first project for the broadcaster in over thirty years; this led to the creation of the topical comedy series Tracey Breaks the News in 2017. Ullman is currently the richest British actress and female comedian and the third richest British comedian overall.
Tracey Ullman's Show - The Tracey Ullman Show - Netflix
In 1985, Ullman was persuaded by her husband to join him in Los Angeles, where he was already partially stationed. She was no stranger to the United States, as she had promoted her music career there, appearing and performing on an array of American talk shows. She had also just completed a press junket for her film, the period drama, Plenty there. The US knew her as a singer and a now budding serious film actress; not the television comedian of her homeland. When she agreed to make the move to the America, she had set her sights on a film and stage career, believing that there was little in the way of television for her. “I didn't believe there was anything above Webster standard. I was wrong.” Her British agent put together a videotape containing a compilation of her work and began circulating it around Hollywood. The tape landed in the lap of Craig Kellem, vice president for comedy at Universal Television. “I could not believe my eyes. It was just about the most extraordinary piece of material I'd seen in a long time.” He wanted production on a series to begin immediately for her. A deal was struck right away with CBS television, who went from ordering a pilot to ordering a full series two weeks later. A script for I Love New York, a show about a “slightly wacky” British woman working in New York, was written by Saturday Night Live writer Anne Beatts. Ullman hated it and the deal deteriorated. Recalling the project, Ullman said, "We'd just hit on an idea, then some white-haired executive - very, very important - would come in from the race track and say, 'I don't like that idea. I think Tracey should be a caring person. I think there should be a kid in this. Now, I'm just pitching here. I don't know if this is funny. But I think Tracey should love this kid and maybe there's a moment where she tells the kid something about life.' And I'd say, “Look - I don't want to work with little kids being cute who I eventually adopt'.” She was also turned off by the industry's materialistic attitude. “Literally, you start your first meeting and already they're thinking about three years' syndication. 'You're going to be worth $13 million. You're going to be a very rich young lady.' I'd say, 'I don't want to talk about the millions of dollars now. Can we put that on hold? I just want to talk about something good'.” Ullman’s agent then decided to send producer James L. Brooks some tapes of her work. Brooks, who had had a very successful career producing television sitcoms, had stepped away from the medium, opting instead for a career in film. Ullman's material was so good that it lured him back to television. “I started showing [her work] to people like you'd show home movies,” revealed Brooks. “I was just startled by the size of the talent. I got chills.” Brooks felt that a sketch show would best suit her assets (acting, singing, and dancing). “Why would you do something with Tracey playing a single character on TV when her talent requires variety? You can’t categorize Tracey, so it's silly to come up with a show that attempted to.” To ensure that she was well-versed in American comedy, Brooks sent her tapes of American sitcoms and variety shows to watch while at home, now pregnant. Ullman refers to it as “homework.” She also visited the Museum of Television and Radio, which she would later be inducted into. She had in fact grown up watching American television in the 1970s in England. Two things stood out to her: the vast number of female comedians, as well as their not having to be conventionally attractive to be funny. “It was very true of my childhood that women needed to be sexy in order to be funny.” Brooks assembled a team of writers, and a deal with Fox Television was made. The network was looking to create its own original programming. Ullman's show, along with Married... with Children, would be the first two scripted shows produced and launched. Scouting for a supporting cast to play opposite her began. Dan Castellaneta, a relative unknown, was asked to read for the show after he was spotted by Ullman at Chicago's Second City. Castellaneta's portrayal of a blind man who wants to be a comedian brought her to tears instead of making her laugh. Actress Julie Kavner had co-starred in Brooks' spin-off series to The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, starring Valerie Harper. Kavner played Harper's younger, socially awkward sister Brenda, a role for which she won an Emmy Award. Kavner was at the top of the list of people Brooks wanted to be part of the show. Brooks on Kavner: “When somebody's intrinsically funny -- you know, in-their-bones funny -- they never have to work at (being funny), so they're free to work on other things. We were all nuts about her work. She was the person we most wanted to work with Tracey.” Actor Sam McMurray read for a guest spot on the show playing William, lover of thirteen-year-old valley girl Francesca's (Ullman) father. McMurray recalling his casting: “The first Francesca sketch, they said, 'Play the guy not so gay.' And I said 'I disagree.' I had a big mouth then -— still do. I said, 'I think he’s more the woman. I think he's more out there.' So I read and I read it big, and they cast me. It was just a one-off, and then we were on hiatus. I did the one week, and I had a friend coincidentally who used to write, a guy named Marc Flanagan, and he was on the show as a staff guy. He called me up and said, 'Did they call your agent?' I said, 'No, why?' He said, 'They wanna make you a regular.'” Another actor who was originally cast for a guest shot which led to becoming a series regular was choreographer Joseph Malone. The show now had its cast. Singer-songwriter George Clinton provided the theme song for the show, “You're Thinking Right.” Dancer Paula Abdul, who had not yet found fame as a singer, was hired to choreograph the show's dance numbers. Because the Fox network was new to the world of television production, a bureaucracy had not yet been established. This enabled the show to take risks and the freedom to try things that the major networks would never permit. The series landed an initial twenty-six episode commitment deal, unheard of for a television comedy. The Tracey Ullman Show debuted on 5 April 1987. Describing the show proved difficult. Creator Ken Estin dubbed it a “skitcom”. A variety of diverse original characters were created for her to perform. Extensive makeup, wigs, teeth, and body padding were utilised, sometimes rendering her unrecognisable. One original character created by Ullman back in Britain was uprooted for the series: long-suffering British spinster Kay Clark. A typical episode of The Tracey Ullman Show consisted of three sketches, one including a song and/or a heavily choreographed dance routine. Brooks was keen on showing off all of Ullman's abilities. “It’s 'Can you juggle this and keep throwing on more plates?' I’m constantly amazed.” Ullman opened and closed the show as herself, adding her trademark, “Go home!,” which she would shout to the studio audience for the closing. The show was shot on film, a departure from previous variety shows which were routinely shot on tape. Looking to add “bumpers” (before and after commercial breaks) to the show, two cartoon shorts were created: “Dr. N!Godatu” and “The Simpsons.” The Simpsons would go on to be spun off into its own television series. By the time The Tracey Ullman Show ended in 1990, the show was awarded ten Emmy Awards; Ullman winning three, one in the category of Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program in 1990. The show not only scored the Fox network its first Emmy nomination, but also earned it its first-ever Emmy win. After four seasons, Ullman decided to end the show in May 1990. In 1991, she filed a lawsuit against Twentieth Century Fox in Los Angeles Superior Court over profits from the later half-hour incarnation of The Simpsons. She wanted a share of The Simpsons' merchandising and gross profits and believed she was entitled to $2.5 million of the estimated $50 million Fox made in 1992. The Fox network had paid her $58,000 in royalties for The Simpsons as well as $3 million for the 3½ seasons her show was on the air. According to an article, as Ullman had continued her professional relationship with former producer Brooks, only the studio and not Brooks was named in the suit. Brooks was allowed to videotape his testimony as he was in the middle of filming I'll Do Anything, in which Ullman appeared. The suit was ultimately dismissed. Ullman wasn't the only one to file a lawsuit; Tracey Ullman Show executive producer Ken Estin filed a similar suit against Fox claiming that his contract called for him to receive 7.5% of revenues from The Simpsons, including a portion of merchandise. Despite losing the 1992 suit, Ullman continues to get an annual share of the show's profits. Ullman provided the voices of Emily Winthrop, a British dog trainer, and Mrs. Winfield on The Simpsons episode “Bart's Dog Gets an F” (1991).
Tracey Ullman's Show - References - Netflix